Swelling of the lymph nodes is also known as tongue or lymphadenopathy . 
In some parts of the neck, the lymph nodes are subdivided according to the  anatomical location,  for example:

  • Submental,
  • Supraclavicular,
  • Cervical,
  • Submandibulares, etc.

The enlargement of the lymph nodes in the neck region is an example of localized lymphadenopathy. 
Swollen lymph nodes can be found simultaneously in different areas of the body, for example:

  • In the groin,
  • In the armpits,
  • In the neck.

In this case, there is talk of generalized lymphadenopathy.


Symptoms related to swollen neck lymph nodes

Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck is a symptom and may be associated with:

  • Dor cervical.
  • Numbness in the area.
  • There may be changes in the overlying skin ( redness , etc.), the overlying skin may be movable or attached to the lymph nodes.
  • The increased size of the lymph nodes may have a different texturedepending on the underlying cause (for example soft, gummy, hard, etc.).
  • There may be other symptoms associated with, but not limited to, the affected region.
  • The symptoms are very variable and depend on the exact cause of the disease that causes swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck.


Causes of swollen neck lymph nodes

Swelling of the lymph nodes is usually caused by an infection or a malignant mass (tumor) in the body. 
Rarely swollen lymph nodes are the consequence of systemic immune diseases such as:

Infections –  several frequent infections in the head and neck can cause swelling of the cervical lymph nodes, for example:

Tumor –  Different types of cancer can cause ingrowth in the neck.

  • Tumors that originate in lymphoid tissues can cause localized lymphadenopathy in the neck, for example, lymphoma:
    • Hodgkin,
    • Non-Hodgkin’s.
  • Even leukemia (“blood cancer”) can cause the lymph glands to always swell.
  • Almost all types of cancer, when they spread ( metastasis ), can cause an increase in the organs of the lymphatic system.
  • Tumors of the head and neck (throat cancer, laryngeal cancer) can cause ingrowth in the neck region, for example:
  • The lymph nodes above the clavicle (supraclavicular lymph nodes) often swell because of a tumor and therefore a complete evaluation is necessary to exclude a malignant mass in the thorax or abdomen.
  • Today, in the case of cancer, the surgeon performs surgery to remove the malignant tissue and the sentinel lymph node where the cancer cells arrived. In the past, all lymph nodes in the affected region were removed.

This is a common viral disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). 
It usually affects young people and causes a feeling of weakness and fatigue for weeks or even months. 
It is also called “kiss disease” because it spreads through the exchange of:

  • Saliva,
  • Mucus.

Symptoms include:

Sometimes it can also swell the spleen, causing tummy ache . 
The treatment provides:

  • Much rest,
  • The administration of analgesics,
  • Antibiotics (for the treatment of pharyngitis ),
  • Gargling with salt water.

It is necessary to avoid contact sports and weight lifting to protect the spleen, which can break in case of mononucleosis.

Other causes
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck may also be due to:

The swelling of the neck may also indicate:

The salivary glands are located in the upper part of the neck, just below the jaw and in front of the ear. 
The thyroid gland is located in the lower part of the neck, near the Adam’s apple.


Swollen lymph nodes on right or left sides

Lymph nodes located in the head and neck region are found in the anterior and posterior cervical areas.

Groups of lymphoid tissue become inflamed because of an attack of:

  • Bacteria,
  • Virus,
  • Other pathogenic microbes.

In most cases, swelling of the lymph nodes on the right or left side of the neck can be caused by:

  • Pathogenic infections,
  • Inflammatory diseases.

The epiglottis is a kind of cartilage blade located at the base of the tongue. This structure may become inflamed due to respiratory infections. 
If a cutaneous lesion in the neck is not treated, it can become infected. 
This can cause swelling of the surrounding lymph nodes. 
Among the causes are also:


Does reactive lymph node mean cancer?

Generally, when lymph nodes are described as “reactive”, it means that the lymph node or a group of lymph nodes are swollen.

In most cases, this anomaly is caused by a benign disease, for example:

  • Irritation,
  • Infection,
  • Inflammation.


Symptoms of diseases that cause swollen and inflamed neck lymph nodes

Non-specific chronic lymphadenitis causes no symptoms in addition to swollen lymph nodes. 
If one of the following symptoms also occurs, the patient may have an infection (the most likely cause) or a tumor. 
These symptoms can be caused by other less serious illnesses. 
Symptoms include:


Diagnosis and exams for swollen neck lymph nodes

  • The doctor asks the patient to describe the symptoms and medical history . 
    Next, a physical examination is needed to assess whether palpable lymph nodes are slightly or very swollen.
  • The superficial lymph nodes are perceived with the touch and are often visible, but for the diagnosis, the instrumental exams are necessary  .
  • The most indicated diagnostic exams are:


When to worry? When are swollen neck lymph nodes dangerous?

  • Swelling that lasts for more than 2-4 weeks
    Persistent swelling that lasts longer than 4 weeks may indicate a serious illness, although the cause is often benign.
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes throughout the body
  • Hard, large, painless and fixed lymph nodes
  • The position of the swollen glands is important to determine the possible causes. 
    Swelling of the supraclavicular lymph nodes requires immediate medical evaluation to exclude a malignant tumor.


Treatment of swollen neck lymph nodes

Treatment depends on the cause.

Infections – Generally, swollen lymph nodes in the neck are caused by an infection.

  • Generally swollen lymph nodes hurt and it is possible to apply warm compresses,
  • The doctor may advise non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen ),
  • If bacterial infection is suspected, antibioticsare indicated,
  • In the event of an abscess forming in the lymph node, surgical drainage may be useful .

Cancer – The treatment options for swollen lymph nodes in the neck region caused by cancer are:

  • Surgery,
  • Radiotherapy and / or chemotherapy,

Treatment depends on:

  • Of the type,
  • From the location,
  • The spread of cancer.

Generally, the cancer that causes lymph node swelling is at an advanced stage (except for lymphatic system cancers, such as lymphoma originating in the lymph nodes).

Swollen neck lymph nodes in children

Cervical lymph nodes (present in the neck) are often affected by many respiratory infections that occur in childhood. 
One of the most common causes of swollen lymph nodes in children and newborns is tonsillitis.

Back to School
Swollen lymph nodes are not contagious. 
If enlarged cervical lymph nodes are associated with a cold, sore throat, or other infections, the child may return to school when:

  • No more fever ,
  • Feel good enough to participate in normal activities.


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